Iceland is a haven for adventurous spirits who want to see nature in full technicolor. Known as the Land of Fire and Ice, it is bursting with contrasting wonders designed to engage your senses. Iceland has geothermal hot springs, crystal clear ice caves, glittering diamond beaches, active volcanoes, majestic mountaintops and so much more. The best way to see everything on your bucket list is to rent a car. For many, choosing among the best 4×4 vehicles in Iceland is the first thing they do.
This is especially important because the public transportation system in Iceland is underdeveloped and doesn’t extend to the countryside.
The best 4×4 vehicles in Iceland
Exploring Iceland on an epic road trip requires the right kind of vehicle. Your rental company can help you find the best 4×4 vehicles in Iceland. They have many of the finest vehicles such as the Dacia Duster 4×4 diesel, Suzuki Jimny 4×4, and many more. When you land in Keflavik Airport you can conveniently pick up your car rental. We wrote an entire post dedicated to finding the best rental car company found in Iceland. Be sure to look at ratings and pay attention to reviews about customer service.
Do you need a 4×4 in Iceland?
First, do you need to rent a 4×4 to travel in Iceland? The short answer is yes and no. Depending on where you want to go and when you are visiting Iceland will determine if you need a 4×4 car rental. But there are many benefits to enjoy by renting a 4×4 car for your journey. For example, if you want to visit the mystical Highlands you will need a 4×4 vehicle. The roads in the Highlands are called F Roads and they are generally too coarse for a regular car. On the F Roads, you have to drive through terrain such as lava fields, gravel, and even through rivers.
Also, it’s better to have a bigger car when there are sudden weather changes like strong winds in the winter and fall. A 4×4 rental gives you the security you need when going on a grand adventure in this magnificent country. 4×4 vehicles are equipped to handle all the various terrains Iceland has to offer.
If you plan on staying on paved roads you typically don’t need a 4×4. However, even on mostly paved roads like the Ring Road (Route 1) you would need a 4×4 depending on the weather. 4×4 rentals provide security against most weather changes and are comfortable for longer drives. Weather conditions that would be best traversed with a 4×4 vehicle include heavy ice and snow on the ground. Also, 4×4 vehicles have better storage for large luggage than a smaller car.
4×4 Rental Iceland
With most companies you can conveniently book your reservation online. Prices can range from 22 euros to 154 euros a day. The first models we will discuss are the affordable and reliable Dacia Duster 4×4 diesel, Suzuki Jimny, and Nissan Qashqai 4×4 diesel. They all have a manual transmission and are perfectly equipped for the Highland F-roads. Collision damage waiver (CDW) insurance, taxes, mileage, GPS, fuel discount key, and theft insurance are usually included in the price. Check with your company.
The bonus fuel discount key is very helpful because gas can be expensive in Iceland. You can also add premium or platinum insurance to include coverage for gravel, sand and ash, and super collision damage protection.
The next two 4×4 vehicles both have the option of selecting an automatic or manual transmission. The make and models are the Toyota RAV4 4×4 and the Suzuki Vitara 4×4. They are also affordable and reliable options to travel the Highland F-roads. If you cannot drive a manual transmission or stick shift you can always rent a car that is automatic. There are several automatic 4×4 cars such as the Kia Sorento 4×4 and the Nissan X-Trail 4×4 diesel. Both of these models can accommodate large groups for up to 7 seats. Smaller automatic models include JEEP Compass Trailhawk 4×4 and Mitsubishi Outlander 4×4.
Please note your car rental can usually be picked up and dropped off at any time at one of the rental car locations near the airport. You can also arrange car pick up and drop off in Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland.
Before you start driving here are a few travel tips to prepare you for your trip. Always adhere to the speed limits, wear your seatbelt, and never drive off-road. If you are caught speeding, not wearing your seatbelt, or driving off the main roads, you will be charged expensive fines. Also, be mindful of any livestock in the roads like sheep so you can avoid any accidents. Make a habit of checking the weather conditions before your drive.
If you see a gas station, you should always stop and fill up your tank even when it’s only half empty. This is a best practice because it could be a long time before another one appears. Load your itinerary in the GPS that’s included in your rental purchase and also have the printed directions as a back up. Then make sure to charge your phone, pack snacks, and have your playlist ready. Now you’re ready to start making memories.
4×4 Highlands Adventure
Since you are prepared for your adventure let’s hit the road and explore the enchanting Highlands in your new 4×4. After you confidently drive your rental through rivers, gravel roads, and lava fields you’ll be rewarded by the Highland views. The first stop should be Landmannalaugar, a beautiful location with famous geothermal hot springs. You can luxuriate in the warm waters and make friends with tourists as well as locals.
Landmannalaugar also has active lava fields, deep volcanic craters and picturesque mountains. These rhyolite mountains shift colors in the light and look like a rainbow painted across the landscape. You can see these mountains in full detail when you go walk along one of the hiking trails. Perfect photo opportunities abound throughout every inch of this land.
The next stop should be the Thorsmork Nature Reserve, a famous hiking location in South Iceland. The name refers to the popular Norse God Thor. It’s easiest to see this natural wonder during the summer months.
The summer months are the best times to visit the Highlands. In the winter the F Roads are closed down for safety purposes. The peak time to visit Iceland is in the summer, and offseason is considered spring, fall and winter. There’s a benefit to all seasons. For example, summertime has warm weather, the Midnight Sun, and accessible waterfalls, but bigger crowds. Fall season is less crowded, cheaper, and the landscape is sprinkled with vibrant colors, but the weather can change unexpectedly.
Choose the Best 4×4 For Your Needs
In your newly rented 4×4 you can travel in any season to these wondrous locations at your leisure.